Related people: Prof. Lionel Pilkington.

Discourses of ‘acting’, ‘creativity’ and ‘performance’ assume an extraordinary importance at moments of recession, re-boldened economic marketization and managed democracy. Why is this? And what exactly is the connection between theatrical acting and the ways in which we think about how we might act socially and politically? This talk proposes that Irish theatre history provides some useful contexts for better understanding these important questions of our time. Specifically, we will look at particular issues of labour, poverty and social justice in the Irish Free State in the mid 1920s and then move on to consider these alongside Ria Mooney’s tour de force performance of the prostitute Rosie Redmond in the first 1926 production of Sean O’Casey’s The Plough and the Stars.

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